Wednesday

20th Feb 2019

France's Macron issues Brexit warning

  • Macron met with British PM Theresa May to polish his international stature. (Photo: Reuters)

French presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron tried to polish his international stature on Tuesday (21 February) with a surprise visit to London where he met the British prime minister and finance minister.

Speaking in front of 10 Downing Street after meeting PM Theresa May, he warned against "undue advantages" for the UK after Brexit and said "an exit is an exit".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"Brexit cannot lead to a kind of optimisation of Britain's relationship with the rest of Europe," he said.

 He added that he encouraged British "talented people" to come to work to France.

“I want banks, talents, researchers, academics and so on," he said, insisting that "France and the European Union are a very attractive space now".

At a meeting for the London French community also attended Nick Clegg, a former Liberal-Democrat leader and deputy PM, Macron urged his countrymen to come back to France to do business. 



Macron, a 39-year old former banker and finance minister, is one of the main contenders for the French presidential election in April, with far-right leader Marine Le Pen and conservative Francois Fillon.

A leader of his own political movement, En Marche [Marching forward], which he launched less than a year ago, Macron is campaigning as a liberal centrist who will renew the political system.

"I claim inexperience and political immaturity," he told his supporters in London, adding that in France, "political experience is political inefficiency [and] favours for friends".

Macron is also one the few candidates expressing positive views about the EU.

"We need Europe," he said in London, adding that France could "not triumph without Europe". He said Europe needed Britain to be involved in a common security policy with the EU even after Brexit.

But Macron, who will unveil his presidential platform next week, is considered by many as thin on ideas and proposals.

They say that he is benefiting only from the collapse of the left, with led the current president Francois Hollande to renounce running again, and from the weakness of the right, with Fillon embroiled in an embezzlement scandal involving his wife and children.

Macron's visit to London, designed as an operation to show that he can be influential abroad, came as the latest poll showed that he was losing ground to Le Pen and Fillon, losing five points to 17-18.5 percent of voting intention.

According to the poll published for L'Express magazine and BFM TV, Le Pen is ahead in voting intention in the first round, with 27-28 percent, and Fillon second at 20-21 percent.

Narrowing gap

In the run-off, Le Pen would be beaten by both Fillon - with 56 percent against 44 - and Macron - 59-41. But the gap between the far-right leader and her contenders is narrowing in polls, despite a police investigation into alleged fake job contracts she signed in the European Parliament.

Many people are also still undecided. According to the poll, 24 percent of respondents refused to say what they would vote in case of a run-off between Le Pen and Macron; 32 percent in case of a Le Pen-Fillon vote.

Another problem for Macron could arise on Wednesday, if centrist politician Francois Bayrou, who summoned the press in the afternoon, announced a presidential bid. Both men would compete for centre-left and centre-right votes.

While Macron was is London, Le Pen was in Lebanon for a two-day visit, also in an operation to demonstrate her international clout.



She met president Michel Aoun and prime minister Saad Hariri but refused to meet the grand mufti because she was asked to wear a veil.

“I have explained to president Aoun the true meaning of my political struggle,” she said. “It is a struggle for freedom and sovereignty which I believe is something that resonates particularly in Lebanon."

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

Macron meets Merkel, says France must reform

The independent liberal candidate to the presidential election said in Berlin that France must reform itself if it wants to remain close to Germany and play a role in Europe.

News in Brief

  1. British PM to batter against EU wall on Brexit
  2. Hungary and Slovakia break EU line on Jerusalem
  3. Germany and France to overhaul EU competition law
  4. Estonia kicks out Danske Bank over money laundering scandal
  5. May and Juncker meet over Brexit on Wednesday
  6. EU promises to open up advisory groups
  7. EU agrees to limit CO2 emissions by trucks
  8. Juncker under attack in Hungary government ad

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  2. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  3. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties
  4. EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news
  5. Trump right for once: Europe should take back foreign fighters
  6. EU should clarify rules for plant burgers and lab meat
  7. Italian populists could be second biggest force in EU parliament
  8. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us